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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


MAY 9, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


FORMER AIRLINE PILOT INDICTED FOR EXTORTIONIST

THREATS, FALSE STATEMENTS TO FAA


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Platte City, Mo., man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for making extortionist threats to employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and for making false statements to the FAA.


            Matthew Harker, 37, of Platte City, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Thursday, May 8, 2008. Harker was a commercial pilot prior to having his Airman Medical Certificate suspended on Jan. 7, 2002.


            The federal indictment alleges that Harker made a series of harassing and threatening telephone calls, as well as sending harassing and threatening e-mails, to FAA representatives in an effort to maintain his Airman Medical Certificate.


            According to the indictment, an FAA physician requested information from Harker on Oct. 25, 2001, regarding his medical condition, including a description of his alcohol use and an explanation of the circumstances surrounding his public intoxication on April 21, 1999. On that date, the indictment says, Harker was detained for being intoxicated in a public place in Dallas, Texas, in regard to an incident aboard a Southwest Airlines flight.


            Harker failed to respond to the request for information, the indictment says, and his First-Class Airman Medical Certificate was suspended on Jan. 7, 2002. A stop order was also issued to preclude the processing of any new applications for FAA certification by Harker.


            Harker nevertheless applied for an Airman Medical Certificate First Class and a Student Pilot Certificate on Nov. 13, 2003, and again in 2004, each time falsely stating that his FAA Airman Medical Certificate had never been suspended, the indictment says. A First Class Airman Medical Certificate was issued in December 2004 but revoked two days later, and Harker was ordered to immediately surrender the certificate or be subject to civil penalties. Harker surrendered the certificate on Jan. 3, 2005.


            The indictment alleges that in January 2007 Harker made a series of harassing telephone calls to an FAA representative. Harker allegedly applied for an FAA Airman Medical Certificate on Jan. 19, 2007, falsely stating that his previous certificate had never been suspended.


            On Feb. 4, 2008, Harker allegedly sent a email to an FAA representative indicating that if his replacement certificates were not sent to him, the person responsible would be shot. That email message was followed by harassing voice mail messages left by Harker for three other FAA representatives.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William L. Meiners. It was investigated by the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General.



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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html